After a Lung Cancer diagnosis, it is normal and expected for even habitually calm people to worry about their futures. But what happens when those worries begin to “take over”, interfering with your ability to enjoy your life? Most of us are familiar with the quote by Barbara Cameron, “Worry about tomorrow steals the joy from today”. However, as cancer patients, our relationships with worry are usually more complicated than that.
Worry, like any uncomfortable feeling, is often a signal that you have a need that has not been met. So, when you have a thought connected to a specific worry, try to dig under the surface of that thought.
For example, “I’m worried that my scan will show progression” or “I’m worried that I won’t survive” are thoughts that, on the surface, we can’t do anything about. They are reasonable to have, but “joy stealers”, so to speak.
Well, what if the unmet need behind those worries is “I need my fear validated”, “I need to be heard” or even “I need a hug”?
Worries can also be motivating and empowering. For instance, worry about your children’s future might drive you to assign a legal guardian, should something happen to you. Worry about the lack of funding for Lung Cancer might spur you to be an advocate.
The next time you have a worry related to your diagnosis, don’t dismiss it! Instead lean into it, feel it, and ask yourself the following questions –
“Is my worry revealing an unmet need, and how do I get it met?”
“Is my worry pointing me toward an empowering action?”
All of this said, a Lung Cancer diagnosis can be so frightening, and personal circumstances so complicated, that sometimes worry is just too hard to manage. Options like therapy and medication can provide critical relief. After all, joy is a reasonable goal – and with the right support, it is within reach.
Lisa Zarov, MSW, LCSW
LUNGevity understands that a lung cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming.
To answer your questions, the Lung Cancer HELPLine offers toll-free, personalized support for patients and caregivers at any time along your lung cancer journey. Our oncology social workers are available to help you manage your emotional, financial, and support challenges.
Dial 844-360-5864, Monday through Thursday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Friday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (Eastern time). Call as often as you need—LUNGevity is here for you with tools to help you navigate your lung cancer diagnosis.